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Johnson, Jr., Clark E. (B.S., Physics, 1950; M.S., E.E., 1961)


My undergraduate advisor was Al Nier. Physics at the University of Minnesota at that time was focused on nuclear physics, but my interest was in solid-state phenomena.

In 1950, I became one of seven physicists in a sea of chemists at 3M’s Central research Laboratory. 3M was just entering the magnetic tape business. I spent nine years working on a system for recording television. RCA was working on the hardware-side, and we were doing the recording tape component. Central Research moved out to what is now the campus on I-94. For the building dedication, a direct color television transmission from RCA/NBC in New York was planned. The program, recorded on 3M “Scotch tape” lasted five minutes and consumed 5000’ of 1/2” tape. Enormous reels of tape running at 200 inches/second were not a practical product. In 1954 William Fuller Brown, Jr. arrived in 3M’s physics department. He shortly left 3M to teach at the University of Minnesota in the Electrical Engineering Department. I entered graduate school in 1957 with my former boss, Bill Brown as my advisor. I left 3M in 1959 to start a high-tech company–the first of several. All of my high-tech companies have relied on some aspect of science and technology that I learned at the University of Minnesota.